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Aqua Metals

Borrower Story: Aqua Metals

Lead Acid Batteries (LABs) are the largest form of electricity storage in the world, representing a $22 billion market.

In recent years, the LAB industry has faced significant challenges associated with a rapidly changing business and regulatory environment. In particular, lead has become more expensive to mine. Meanwhile, purifying smelters generate large amounts of pollution, causing refiners to incur exorbitant EPA regulatory expenses.

Seeing an opportunity to revolutionize the industry, Aqua Metals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AQMS) raised $30 million in an IPO transaction.

These funds allowed AQMS to bring unique technology to the market, disrupting the existing recycling market. The company’s innovations enabled AQMS to become an industry leader in both cost and efficiency.

The current recycling method, known as “smelting,” involves melting lead under intense heat. This smelting process produces material amounts of toxic emissions.

By contrast, AQMS’ proprietary AquaRefinery™ facility consumes less energy and produces nearly zero emissions. The first of these facilities is under construction near Reno, Nevada, and AQMS has ambitious plans for global expansion.

North Avenue Capital began working with AQMS and the USDA’s Nevada office in late 2014 to structure a debt-financing platform. By using debt, AQMS will be able to optimize the use of its IPO proceeds in building its first AquaRefinery™. On Aug. 21, 2015, the company broke ground in Nevada’s Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), and construction of the clean battery recycling facility began.

Alex Louis and Eric Johnson led NAC’s efforts to meet the needs and requirements of AQMS, the USDA, and co-funding bank, Green Bank, N.A. from Houston, Texas.

To quote Sarah Adler, Nevada State Director of USDA Rural Development, “Aqua Metals and the USDA’s Business & Industry Loan Guarantee program are a perfect match.”

Dr. Stephen R. Clarke, Chairman, and CEO of AQMS added:

“This USDA-backed loan provides Aqua Metals a key piece of financing with which to expand our initial AquaRefinery™. We are excited to be part of the USDA’s Rural Development Program to bring new and innovative technologies and jobs to the heart of America.”

"North Avenue Capital did something quite unusual. They said what they were going to do, and they delivered on it. If they believe in a project, they will go the extra mile to get it completed."

Stephen Clarke

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